On My Way to the Masjid

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She’d always wanted to wear hijab. Unable to wear it due to school policy, guest writer Aseel narrates what happens when she finally graduated.

When I was a child, about 10 or 11 years old, I was so excited about wearing the hijab. I wanted to wear it as soon as possible. It was something you obeyed Allah with, without caring what any other person thought.

Unfortunately, I was in a private Christian school where hijab was forbidden! Although the Muslims and Christians in my country live in peace to some level, some said that the school I was in forbade hijab in order to get financial aid from France. Anyway, it was only a matter of time for me. I was still a kid and most of the people I knew at the time, like my cousins and friends, hadn’t started covering yet.

When I finished my last year at school (in June), I was so happy and grateful. I remember setting some goals, and the hijab was on the top of the list. I was supposed to wear it in the summer, but I delayed it a long time, to get the right clothes and scarfs and anything else… Sooner than I expected, I found that my first day of university had started, without me wearing the Hijab. I was shocked that day, for I discovered that the reason I was still not wearing the cover had nothing to do with my school or the clothes or the timing. It was because I was too weak to take that step!

I did wear it in the morning… I looked at myself in the mirror, decided that I wasn’t used to that look and didn’t have the courage to go out with it. I did this every single morning for several weeks, and then forgot.

After that, I remember being miserable. It was like I didn’t trust myself anymore. I had always told myself that I wanted to cover, and that the only reason I didn’t was my school. But there I was, with nothing keeping me from the pure feeling of covering but myself. I felt weak… If I can’t control myself to do what I think is right, then how can I fight external challenges!, I thought to myself.

I also remembered how, before that stage, I would mention hijab in my dua’ (prayer). But after starting the university, each time I thought about hijab and wanted to make dua’, I would just cry without saying a word. It was as if I felt that if I said “I want to wear hijab,” I would be a liar. I was so ashamed to talk about it. It was a story about failure!

Then, it was Ramadan. I love Ramadan! My first two weeks of that Ramadan were like my previous Ramadans: fasting, praying, reading Qur’an and doing dua’. After Iftar, my whole family would sometimes go to the masjid for the taraweeh prayer. Usually, I would have my prayer-clothes with me. But one time, I wore the hijab before leaving the house and went to the prayer. It really was a great feeling.

Two days or so after going to the masjid with hijab, the house was empty. Everybody had gone to work or school, and my university classes were at 12:00 pm. I started getting ready, and was thinking about what to wear. I saw the scarf from earlier, and tried it on, and spent some good time fixing it and putting it on right.

And that was it: the day I wore hijab.

All the way to the university, I swear, it was like a dream, like I was flyiiiiiing.

I finally did it!, I thought to myself. I’m closer to Allah now… now I can go out and gather “hasanat” every time someone sees me. Now my looks will help others remember Islam!

I felt that I was so blessed, indeed, and just wanted to laugh and cry and thank Allah, from the bottom of my heart.

When I got to the university, I still remember my friends’ reactions: each and every one of them congratulated me with a smile or a hug, and said that I looked nice with it. Even people whom I hardly knew came to say congratulations. I really appreciated the positive attitude that others approached me with. And when I went back home, my parents were surprised and really thrilled. I don’t think they had expected it, although I talked about it a lot.

It was one of my best days ever. I remember trying to stop my smile, because it had been plastered on my face for so long, but I couldn’t. I felt that everything – the sky, the trees, the people – they were all happy for me, for taking this step.

Now, four years later, I dare say that wearing the hijab was one of the greatest achievements of my life. It brings me closer to Allah, feeling that I am reminding people about Islam while continuing my everyday life. I also feel that my success, at school and in other fields, now has a basis. It gives me strength and confidence I didn’t have before. Hijab truly affected my whole life. Now I can focus on improving myself and my Islam from other sides.

I want to tell all the sisters who want to wear hijab but haven’t managed to until now: if you are strong enough to control yourself, you’ll be able to get through other challenges. But if you are too weak to control yourself, you won’t be able to manage other things. And if Islam is in your heart, it is a good feeling to let it out, and tell the world, through your looks, that you are a Muslimah.
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Submitted to I Got It Covered for our May 2010 reader-takeover month. Aseel is a student studying Computer System Engineering, and will be graduating this year, insha’Allah.